Gandhi is a 1982 epic biographical film which dramatizes the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Gandhi was the leader of India’s non-violent, non-cooperative independence movement against the British Empire’s rule of the country during the 20th century. It stars Ben Kingsley in the title role.
The film starts with Gandhi’s assassination and subsequent funeral. Then we are taken to a scene where Gandhi is thrown out of a train in South Africa for traveling in a whites-only compartment. The film ends with the assassination and funeral of Gandhi.
It is in South Africa Gandhi starts a non-violent protest campaign for the rights of all Indians in South Africa. In the midst of numerous arrests and international attention that is despised by the white authorities, the South African government finally gives in by recognizing some rights for Indians.
After the victory in South Africa, the patriots in India invite Gandhi to fight for India’s independence. Gandhi agrees but is prepared to use only nonviolence and non-cooperation in his campaign against the British as he does not like to see a bloodbath during the struggle.
Gandhi starts small but with time, is able to influence millions of countrymen throughout India to fight against the British. Gandhi is arrested several times but the white leaders cannot stop the tide against them. Hundreds of Indians are massacred in Jallianwala Bagh and this shocks Gandhi.
Even the British activists and citizens sympathize with Gandhi and Indians and the constant pressure they put on their own government forces the British to free India after the World War II. But Ali Jinnah, a Muslim leader, sides with the British and demands for a separate state for the Muslims in India. The British who love to use divide and rule policy in their colonies readily agree to grant Jinnah’s wish.
Gandhi tries his best to unite Hindus and Muslims even by offering Jinnah the post of the Prime Minister of India to stop country being divided. But Nehru opposes this idea. Finally Pakistan is born.
The creation of Pakistan at midnight results in a large number of Muslims and Hindus being killed and injured. Gandhi is horrified with that and starts a hunger strike till the violence stops. Finally people heed and Gandhi calls off strike.
The birth of Pakistan creates enemies for Gandhi within the Hindu community itself. A religious fanatic Nathuram Godse shoots Gandhi point blank and kills him.
What we can learn from Gandhi, the film is that to stick to your goal despite heavy setbacks and holding onto your fair policies. Gandhi never abandoned his nonviolence policy at a time which he could set the millions of Indians against the white rulers and forced them to quit India fearing unprecedented violence. Instead he could wait till the time was ripe for the Independence.
But at the end we are convinced that even a saintly figure like Gandhi also had to end up his life with a bullet. The father of nonviolence had to die as a result of violence. This is the way of the word. But this shouldn’t discourage anyone from practicing and patronizing nonviolence. We can remember how Nelson Mandela won his cause through nonviolence in the recent past.